The government reported that last year, around 1.2 million women suffered domestic abuse, over 400,000 were sexually assaulted, 70,000 were raped and thousands more women were victims of stalking.
In addition to this, a huge number of women are also suffering in silence; with fewer than 1 in 4 women who suffer abuse at the hands of their partner and 1 in 10 women who experience serious sexual assault, actually reporting their abuse to the police.
The government’s policy of ending violence against women and girls in the UK has seen some positive actions and changes, such as the widening of the definition of domestic abuse to include those aged 16 and 17, and providing funding for the training of independent domestic violence advisors. More information about the policy is available here. (www.gov.uk/government/policies/ending-violence-against-women-and-girls-in-the-uk).
As part of this policy, the domestic violence disclosure scheme was introduced. The implementation of this scheme means that an individual has the right to ask the police if a new or existing partner has a violent past or any previous violent offenses. From these checks the police can then determine if the individual may at risk of domestic violence from their partner and release the information to that individual. Through this scheme the police may also be allowed to proactively check and then release information to individuals when they have received information about a potentially violent partner from other sources, where it is deemed necessary to do so.
The domestic violence disclosure scheme was piloted in the Gwent and Wiltshire, Greater Manchester and Nottinghamshire police force areas during the summer of 2012, recently coming to an end on September 2013. This scheme marks a great step forward in protecting women from the risk of domestic violence and setting up a clear framework and consistent processes that the public can depend on.
The government are considering the outcomes of the recently concluded and we eagerly await to see what the next steps will include.
For more information about what the scheme involves, visit the government website here. (www.gov.uk/government/publications/domestic-violence-disclosure-scheme-pilot-guidance)